As a small business owner, you wear many hats, and the role of marketer is one of them. Luckily, there are ways to start small, build your network, and utilize resources. Once you take the time to lay the proper foundation, you can add good, better, and best practices to your marketing strategy.
Jodi Vedelli, senior director of marketing at Builders Mutual, recommends marketing areas that are a good focus of your time and energy.
Establish what sets you apart.
The construction industry is incredibly broad and includes widely varied types of builders and trade specialties. In order to market to the right audience, establish what sets you apart.
Here are some questions to think about as you get started on your marketing plan. Are you looking to do business with a family buying their first home or with someone building a fully customized dream house? Do you specialize in remodeling or new construction? Do you offer a unique product or service, like green building? What is your price point?
Lay the foundation.
Before you begin actively marketing, ensure you have laid the foundation for your business through clearly branded marketing materials. Your brand and marketing materials should be tailored to your audience. For example, if you are a family business, consider how you are communicating those values to your specific audience.
Basic materials include:
- Logo: Select a clear, simple, easy-to-print logo. Lean on local talent to create the right design for your company.
- Tagline: Establish a tagline, which is a short phrase that vocalizes what sets you apart.
- Colors: Pick a corporate color and a complementary color palette that will appear in your logo, on your website, and throughout your marketing materials.
- Templates: Create a template with company branding for estimates and invoices.
- Business cards: Print business cards that include your logo and contact information, along with a website and social media handles, if possible.
- Apparel: Purchase basic apparel featuring your logo.
- Decals: Consider decals for the sides of your company truck or vehicle(s).
Marketing a small business often means what you’re marketing is yourself. The goal is to have a consistent and polished look. When you meet with a client and arrive in a truck that is branded with your company decal, step out in a matching shirt, and deliver an estimate on a templated form, you give the impression of a stable and professional business. This will put potential clients at ease and build trust from the first interaction.
It’s OK to start small.
With your company brand and basic marketing materials in place, it’s time to get in front of potential clients. It’s OK to start small and build your marketing efforts as time and resources allow. Here are good, better, and best practices, as well as ways to delegate.
Networking through associations and events are a good place to start. Although general contractors and trade contractors may be marketing to different audiences, it’s important for both groups to build circles of influence in the community.
Add to your network by joining and becoming active in associations like the Associated General Contractors of America, Associated Builders and Contractors, Home Builders Association, or Hispanic Contractor Association. Bring standout team members to association meetings and events to continue to spread knowledge about your business.
Events sponsored by industry associations offer valuable exposure. Open houses, like a Parade of Homes, are ways to showcase your best work and meet potential clients. Prospects can visit completed projects and see your unique designs and the quality of your work.
Consider hosting open houses of your own outside of annual association events. There is an opportunity for GCs and trade contractors to team up and share their collaborative work on a project or on a tour of multiple homes.
Once you’ve put effort into growing your presence in the community through associations and events, grow your presence online. Take advantage of social media to market your business for free.
A major benefit of social media is the chance to showcase your projects and share reviews from clients. For best practices and details on getting started, read Social Media 101.
After you create your accounts, delegate the tasks of posting and managing them to your office manager.
The best-case scenario involves adding a level of paid advertising on top of your efforts in the community and online.
Local publications, association and industry publications, and real estate publications all feature opportunities to run paid ads. Look into the publications you respect, and find ones that fit your niche and budget. Review the various trade publications available and those that may create new partnerships.
Once you are able to set aside a full marketing budget, consider partnering with an agency or a third party that can help you best integrate various elements of print, digital, and social advertising into a unified campaign.
Expect results and follow through.
The goal of each of these steps is to drive more recommendations. As you grow your network, you’ll increase the number of people you can rely on to generate quality leads.
Remember, if you’re going to do a big push with promotions and paid advertising, you should have the capacity to support the response it generates. When you receive leads, be sure to follow up in a timely manner. If you’re already at full capacity, then focus on maintaining your association memberships and social platforms. Wait until you’re ready for new business to ramp up before including paid advertising and events.
Once you establish what sets you apart and create a strong foundation and brand for your company, following these guidelines will help you develop a solid marketing plan. As you build your business, you can grow your marketing strategy and network accordingly.